This weekend was wonderful having spent time with the Grandbabes. I loved seeing them again. And that they are both so grown up now. Remember this was their birthday weekend. So it was fun. We took my in-laws with us and made a road trip out of it. Thankfully I had our Xlear with us. (You pronounce that Clear by the way.) It has been up and down with the weather around here. My sinuses having been having a bit of a time. Of course the dust in the air with the road trip messes me up too. Xlear is a saline nasal spray with Xylitol and is wonderful for cleaning the nasal passages. Having the allergies that I contend with I love having something to moisturize my sinus passages. I also use this on my grandbabes. It is all natural and is not a prescription either. You may have heard of the using xylitol in candies, as a sweetner and in dental products. It seems to be the next new thing out there. Thanks to Karen for sending this new product on to me.
I also had time to share a few goodies with my grandbabes. One of them was Sukey's Circle!. Katie sent me this goodie. This was a great way to get all the kiddos up and moving around. And also burn off some of that pent up energy. Gosh you know how it gets with tons of kiddos and a birthday cake in the same room! But we enjoyed These are my Eyes and Tick Tock. Isn't it fun to watch a group of kids get all excited and laugh and giggle. I loved it. And the running around "extra-sizing" was fun. Yeah that is how Miss Emma says it. This was great to get the blood pumping for the kiddos. I wish I had the energy they have. Aunt Rene and Tammy....this is a good one for your groups of daycare kiddos!
Next we shared a great story time. "Once Upon a Baby Brother" by Sarah Sullivan was just perfect. It was Grandbabe boy's actually birthday as Grandbabe girl's birthday was the day before. It was so fun to hear the fantastic stories that Lizzie makes up. But with a new baby brother in the house it is harder to get anyone to notice her. But never fail Lizzie can come up with a great new story. If you would like to find out for yourself then pop on a comment here. We are doing a giveaway of "Once Upon a Baby Brother". Tell us your favorite story of your brother or sister. Are you older, younger or an only?
Here is a lil Q & A we had with Sarah Sullivan on her writing. College Girl listen up.....this is how it is done.
1. How did you get the idea for Once Upon a Baby Brother?
As often happens, the first few lines came into my head. I heard the voice of a young girl telling her stories. It soon became clear that she had certain issues with her younger brother Marvin. Sadly, the entire story did not come so easily. Once I had the beginning, it took a lot of plain, old-fashioned work to find my way to the end.
2. Once the idea came to you, what happened next? Did you jot it down right away? Let it simmer?
I took down those first few lines right away. Then I jotted down various lines that might fit somewhere, not necessarily in the order in which I was writing them down. I knew that Lizzie would make Marvin the villain in her stories. And I always knew it would be a funny story But, I had trouble with the dramatic structure, (a common problem for me), until Melanie Kroupa expressed interest in the manuscript. With her expert and inspired guidance, the story started to develop the dramatic arc it needed.
3. What did you find the most challenging about writing this book? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part of writing this story . . . hmm. There were two major challenges. The first challenge was figuring out how to integrate the home story with the school story in the space of a 32-page picture book. The second challenge was figuring out how to succinctly tell the story of turning Marvin into a comic book hero. My editor and Tricia Tusa had A LOT to do with making that work! Creating a picture book is truly a collaborative enterprise!
4. How did the illustrations come about?
People are often surprised to learn that writers do not select their own illustrators – ( at least, not usually). Once Melanie and I finalized the text, she began looking for an illustrator. As you might imagine, I was THRILLED when she mentioned Tricia Tusa's name and was DOING BACK FLIPS when Tricia agreed to illustrate the book. As time passed and I had the opportunity to see sketches and then, proofs with color art, the joy and excitement continued to grow. 5. How did you know you wanted to become a writer? (Or: When did you begin to think of yourself as a writer?)
I guess I have a little bit in common with my main character in that, like Lizzie, I have always loved to tell stories. The writing fever really took hold once I learned to read in first grade. I started reading everything! Books, magazines, comics in newspapers, cereal boxes, the courtesy light sign on the dashboard of my grandfather's Oldsmobile – everything! And I started writing stories too. My first story was about a dead bird I found lying in the grass in our yard. I know that sounds a bit morbid, but the bird was so lovely. It was a cardinal and it made me sad to see it lying there so still. I had to write about it. I suppose, then, like now, a lot of my motivation for writing came from a need to try and understand why things happen the way they do.
Later on, my best friend, Nelle, and I had a secret club in a room in the basement of her house in Colorado. We collected Sugar and Spike comic books and wrote comic books with our own characters. Wait a minute -- This is starting to sound familiar . . .
I still have trouble calling myself a writer, even though I write every day. But, I have come to understand that, no matter what I call myself, I will always write. I will always tell stories. It's a need. I'm unhappy if I don't write.
6. What advice do you have for young writers—especially those with little brothers ;-)?
There is no better training for a writer than to read. Read all the time. Read all different kinds of things. And then follow your passion and, as one of my writing teachers, Jane Resh Thomas, advises her students, write what moves you. Write about things that you care passionately about.